Stoked for Stokes

We do a lot of events here for books on Texas history, which I love because I’m from New York and don’t know much about the history of the Republic beyond “Come and take it.”

Tonight we’re hosting an author I’ve been looking forward to since we first heard about his book, David Stokes.  His new book, The Shooting Salvationist, is about one of the craziest stories from Texas history I’ve heard so far.

In the 1920s, Rev. J. Frank Norris led a congregation of 10,000 Baptists up in Fort Worth. At that point, that was the biggest congregation in the country, the first “mega-church.”  Norris was incredibly powerful – he owned a newspaper, radio station, and land in downtown Fort Worth.  He was THE man and you did NOT mess with him.  Then one day, all hell broke loose when he shot and killed an unarmed man in the church office. The trial was a huge deal. Norris faced the electric chair if convicted. It was all over the papers, reported with an O. J. Simpson-scale frenzy.

I found this video (a preview for an unrelated documentary) which I’m including so you can hear Norris’ powerful preaching. He’s serious about his salvation:

Stokes will be here at 7 o’clock tonight to give us the background on Norris and the details of what happened in that church office and in the courtroom.  I can’t wait.  It’s like an episode of Law & Order, only set in Texas, which means it’s bigger. And of course hotter.

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